International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Hurricane Sandy: IRC aids Haitian quake survivors in deluged camps

As Hurricane Sandy pushes north, leaving 39 people dead in the Caribbean, the International Rescue Committee is assisting Haitians who rode out the storm in makeshift shelters in and around Port-au-Prince.

As many as 400,000 people made homeless by the 2010 Haiti earthquake remain in camps, many in areas prone to flooding and mudslides.
 
This week IRC teams warned camp residents about the encroaching storm and prepared to distribute emergency supplies.
 
Miriam Castaneda, who oversees the IRC’s humanitarian aid programs in Haiti, shares this update on the storm damage and the IRC’s response:
 
There’s been sustained heavy rains for more than 48 hours now.  It was impossible to visit the camps yesterday and very dangerous, but the rains slowed enough today that we were able to do an emergency needs assessment in several camps.
 
The good news is that people largely followed our precautions and were able to reinforce their tents and secure their valuables. There were few reports of tents and other items being swept away.
 
Also, Haitian authorities were able to evacuate vulnerable people — like the disabled and women with small children — and take them to one of 12 designated emergency shelters.  For everyone else, there is simply nowhere to go and the camps and tents where they live are now completely flooded. Latrines that are poorly maintained have overflowed and garbage is everywhere.
 
IRC staff in Port-au-prince head out to inspect damage after Hurricane Sandy

IRC teams head out to assess storm damage in camps around Port-au-Prince on Friday. Many of these settlements sprang up after the 2010 earthquake in areas prone to flooding and mudslides.

Photo: IRC

Tomorrow we are going to start distributing emergency kits that include plastic sheeting, jerry cans for collecting water, wind-up flashlights, hygiene supplies and other items.
 
As soon as the water goes down, we’ll begin a cleaning effort in the camps and bring in supplies so that people are able to clean and disinfect their tents and get rid of any bacteria. We’re very much on the lookout for cholera and will make referrals if cases are detected.
 
In spite of everything that happened, the people in the camps are so strong and positive. I asked families surrounded by water, waste and garbage how they are faring and they said: "Nobody died and there were no injuries — we are fine.”
 
The IRC delivered emergency supplies to families in Haiti's hard-hit camps in the wake of Hurricane Isaac in August.  Learn more about our work in Haiti at Rescue.org/haiti
 

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